I was introduced to the concept languishing through a NY Times article that was being passed around within all of my therapist networks. In this article, Adam Grant explains why so many people are feeling blah. Like most therapists, we were seeing more clients with focusing issues and lacking joy in their lives. They were still functioning, but not with any enjoyment. We were calling this burnout, but at the same time, we knew that this term didn’t really fit. These clients were still functioning in their lives, but they too weren’t flourishing. Grant was able to explain that languishing is the “neglected middle child of mental health.” It is located in the middle between flourishing and burnout. Flourishing is when when you are at the peak of your mental health well-being, whereas burnout is where you have no energy for your daily activities. It also, wasn’t depression as clients weren’t in a hopeless state. Languishing is the sense of emptiness and stagnation in life. You truly feel like you are muddling through life.
Grant pointed out that just identifying if you or someone you know is languishing it can have a positive significant impact on their mental health. My friend read the article, which then gave her the vocabulary to identify and explain what was going on with her. Once this was achieved, she was able to take action. She spoke to her boss, who was then able to show her compassion and understand her work struggles. She had other friends read the article, which then helped them too to see that they were struggling with languishing. This normalized my friend’s struggle while also building her a support network at the same time. She ultimately decided to find a short-term therapist for a “tune-up.”
I encourage you all to take a moment to read this enlightening article. It might just give you the knowledge and vocabulary to explain what is going on with yourself or a loved one. As always, I am here for you.